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The journey back to Texarkana

Thanks to not looking at the map on the way back but relying on signposts, we ended up missing the turning from I-10 back onto I-49 and went about 80 miles too far along I-10 ending up in Westlake, LA. Instead of going all the way back to Lafayette, we turned north onto US-171 and then cut across back onto I-49. In all the whole trip back was about 8 hours long in spite of the wrong turning.

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Bourbon Street

Walk out from Margaritaville away from the river and most of the shops seem to make way for what appears to be residential, with the odd shop advertising voodoo, tarot and other kinds of mystical services.
A few blocks down and we’re on Bourbon Street, pretty quiet road with mostly apartments etc. Is this the right place? We headed back down Bourbon Street towards the hotel and suddenly there are bars opening onto the street, great crowds of people and lots of noise.
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If anything, it was too crowded for my liking but it looked like everyone was having fun. Given some of the things that were going on there, I was very surprised to see several young kids with their parents and several older kids (I guess in their early teens) doing tricks, dancing, etc on the pavement.

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Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville

Although we found the restaurant on friday evening, we didn’t eat there until saturday evening. They have a queuing system that during busy times conveniently places you in front of the bar for about 10-30 minutes before you get to sit down and eat.
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We had a nice meal and then went for a walk down into the French Quarter a bit more to find Bourbon Street.

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Aquarium of the Americas

One major attraction in New Orleans is the Aquarium of the Americas. It’s got sharks, jellyfish, and all kinds of other fish. There’s also a section that has parrots, an alligator and turtles.
This is a lionfish that was at the aquarium.
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Here is one of the seadragons, there were several of these swimming round in one of the tanks. There were also some ‘leafy seadragons’ which were very strange looking things much like the one below but it had some small leaf-like bits to help camouflage it.
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Right next door is an IMAX theatre showing fishy movies – Sharks, Ocean wonderland, Volcanoes of the deep sea and Into the deep. They’re in 3D and the 3D effect is really neat. Fish swimming out of the screen towards you, quite a few of the kids in the audience were being a bit silly and reaching out trying to grab them.

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Walking in New Orleans

We walked from the hotel down the river to the French Quarter in search of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville which is a restaurant that had been recommended to us. It also gave us a chance to see some of the other sights of the French Quarter. We saw the French Market, the Hard Rock Cafe and Jackson Square.
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This is the view into Jackson Square over the railings, looking away from the river.

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Harrahs – New Orleans

Last time we went to America, we visited Harrah’s in Shreveport, LA and there were people wandering round with huge cups full of coins from the machines. This was just a year and a bit ago. Harrah’s in New Orleans had similar machines but instead of dealing with coins, they accept $5 bills or greater and spit out a small barcoded ticket with the amount of your winnings (or remaining credit) on it. The ticket can then be redeemed at one of the machines around the edge of the room.

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The Mississippi at night

We got to New Orleans, checked into the hotel and having driven up and down most of the one-way streets, more by accident than anything else, we had a reasonable idea where various places were and how to get there. Given it was getting late we went to the Riverwalk shopping centre looking for something to eat. There’s a huge food court upstairs with all kinds of foods on sale – chinese, pizza, pasta, etc.

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Going to New Orleans

Texarkana to New Orleans is roughly a 420 mile journey which should take (according to mapquest.com) 7 and a half hours.
Lori and I left the kids with her family and did the journey on our own. Although quite a lot of the tourist attractions in New Orleans are the kind of thing that they’d like, the journey there is a bit much by car and hotel accommodation for all of us would have been quite expensive.

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Weather in Texas

Mention “weather” and “Texas” in the same sentence and everyone seems to imagine hot scorching sun, not a cloud in the sky and high humidity, but it’s not at all like that. It’s more like the weather in the UK – when it’s cold and wet, it’s cold and wet, but when it’s sunny it’s really sunny. The only difference is that when it’s sunny it’s about twice the temperature of the UK and there are a lot more sunny days than cold and wet.

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Immigration and the rental car

We landed about 30m early but this time saving was soon swalled up by the immigration process that I’m sure took significantly longer than the last time we were here. I guess it’s partly to do with the US-VISIT process. This basically involves digitally taking fingerprints of both index fingers and a digital photo for all incoming non-US citizens.